- Faith & Family
In the public life, the Christmas season seems to begin sooner and sooner each year. Nowadays, once Halloween decorations have been put away, stores replace them with dazzling arrays of Christmas decor.
Yet in the various Christian faith communities, the season of Advent, or the period of time where believers begin preparations for the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas, actually begins only a few weeks before the Nativity holiday.
For several Western Christian denominations, first Advent Sunday was celebrated on Nov. 27th.
For adherents, this serves as a reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the return of their Messiah and as well as the waiting of modern-day Christians for the return of Christ.
Advent, which means “arrival” or “the coming” in Latin, also marked the beginning of the church of the church year.
Traditionally denominations such as Catholicism, Methodism, Episcopalian, Orthodox, and Presbyterian officially recognized the date. However, in recent years, more Evangelical and Protestant Christians have started to celebrate the date as well.
The Advent Season varies in length from year to year, starting on the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day which is always the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day.
For many faiths, honoring the Advent season is a way to keep Christ at the center of the Christmas season.
There are different symbols of the advent season, including the Jesse Tree which represents the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and the Alpha and Omega symbols.
Advent candles are typically held in a garland wreath and each candle represents an aspect of spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ such as prophecy, love, joy, peace and Christ.
For the Jesse Tree each Sunday during the Advent season, an ornament representing a prophecy foretelling of the coming of Christ, the lineage of Christ, or symbols of Christianity, are added to the Jesse Tree.
Advent calendars have also become popular. The calendars begin on the first day of Advent and countdown the 24 days until Christmas Eve.
By Kaila Heard